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In the Spirit Forest
by misterbones
Citation:   misterbones. "In the Spirit Forest: An Experience with Mushrooms (exp18507)". Oct 30, 2002.

3.0 g oral Mushrooms (dried)
  0.5 joints/cigs smoked Cannabis  


SET & SETTING ; We had come into a lot of mushrooms at a festival we attended in early October. A chance meeting with someone we had met the month before led to us making the biggest purchase we had done (not that much really, but a lot for us). My birthday was coming up, I had been reading Breaking Open the Head by Daniel Pinchbeck and had just been to Burning Man for the first time.

In other words, I was up for exploration of self and world.

My girlfriend and I booked a room at a secluded Mountain Lodge in the Shenandoah Valley. Timber room with a built-in fireplace, etc. We decided to trip on the Sunday, to get out into the George Washington National Forest and take the mushrooms deep within the vibrant (and psychedelic) colors of the fall foliage.

PREFACE TO TRIP ; Our host gave us a trail map, and after a bit of searching to find a trail that wasn't full of day hikers, we set off. It had been raining up until we arrived at the Lodge, so the ground was a bit damp, and the forest had a deep green along with the fires of the leaves. It was party cloudy, with sun peeking out every now and then, and a balmy 60 degrees, with a bit of a Fall chill.

We had a backpack with essentials: water, a thermos of ginger tea, a sliced apple, some gingerbread, some cigarettes, a joint, a trail map, a polaroid camera and an extra case of polaroid film.

As soon as we started on a our walk, my girlfriend spotted some strange looking mushrooms on the trunk of a tree. Five minutes later, we saw some more, a different strain. This seemed to us to perhaps be a good sign.

We walked in an hour or so (up a steep climb) and came to a leafy glade that had soft green moss and a myriad of different types of trees. We ate our mushrooms quickly, pausing only to say hello to some fellow travellers who crossed our path. We were looking forward to the trip -- I was especially positive feeling about the upcoming experience; my girlfriend was a nervous because she had a bit of a cold and had not had a good experience the last time we tripped. We decided to walk along the trail until the mushrooms really began to kick in, thinking we probably had an hour. This is time 00.

00:15 ; Not being able to belive that the mushrooms were already coming on, we stumbled a little further down the path, until I suggested we take a break and check out the colors on the leaves.

00:15 - 1:00 ; An intensely enjoyable 45 minutes or so (time began to get liquid) of nature watching. The fall colors were constantly moving and dripping into one another, and the sunshine that would occasionally shine in looked spectacular. We sat on moss that was remarkably comfortable and springy. I took a polaroid of a great psychedelic view and my girlfriend and I marvelled at as the picture appeared on the film and took on a life of its own. We gathered what was left of our wits and walked on.

1:00 - 1:15 ; We stopped by a strange arrangement of fallen trees for some water. The trip was beginning to come on really hard at this point, so we smoked about half the joint we had and had some water. I remarked that it felt like we were walking in a 'spirit forest.' My girlfriend made motions like she was swimming instead of walking and for moments it would look as though the forest was substantive -- the trees, leaves, wood and other plants would collapse perspective so that it looked like a substance she COULD swim through. Unbelievable.

1:15 - 2:30 ; At one point, we passed two youngish girls -- going past us on the trail -- who were dressed like goth kids, in brown coats with distinctly elvin features. My girlfriend and I looked at each other in wide-eyed wonder. 'Fucking elves!' I whispered and we both laughed, because, hey, they DID look like elves. Two minutes later, they came walking back from behind us and overtook us, obviously upset that there was no view or whatever from where we had been. They were walking quickly, and I just had time to snap a polaroid of them as they diasappeared down the forest trail. In the picture, they are almost impossible to make out.

At another point, we passed a strange family of mother, father and three small boys. My girlfriend was very nervous about social interaction, so I assured her that I would 'handle' it. The boys and their father all had the same crew-cut haircut with jughandle ears. The boys were up to all kinds of mischief -- playing with sticks, bending trees, loudly pretending to be airplanes. The father of the clan asked me if the waterfall was much further. Waterfall? I knew there was no waterfall where we had been.

I attempted to pull out my map to show him the trail, but the red and green contour lines on the map began sliding out of control in front of my eyes. The whole map seemed alive with pulsating neon energy. All squiggly lines blended into one another and they gyrated about the surface of the paper. I DISTINCTLY heard a low pitched voice say 'MAP? THERE IS NO MAP FOR WHERE YOU ARE.' I stammered something out to the man, put the map away and we made our escape from the family.

2:30 - 3:30 ; We walked a little bit off the path to have a break and smoke some cigarettes down by some fallen trees. At this point perceptions are crazy heightened, language has almost completely broken down, and the forest is pulsing with vibrant life. We sit down and my girlfriend presents a small pice of green lichen-covered bark to me. 'I found a friend,' she says, taking a picture of him. She then puts that picture down to develop and puts the bark and a small on the developing picture so that it looks as though they are checking out the picture. She snaps a picture of this tableau.

'And here's another friend...' she says and gestures to a mushroom that is growing right next to us with a leaf on it. Then she snaps two polaroids. As they're developing, I can't make out what they're supposed to be, so I ask her. 'This one's a friend, and this one's another friend,' she says. And sure enough she's taken pictures of two more, different species, mushrooms that are next to us.

It is soon apparent that we are surrounded by about 5 different kinds of mushrooms. Some are tiny, some are hiding playfully underneath leaves, some are big, some are glowing. The amazing thing is that I don't ever see them first. It's always my girlfriend, and sometimes these things are so well camoflauged by leaves and plants that I can't imagine how she's finding them. She says that they're just 'showing themselves' to her.

She looks into the camera lens and begins to play with the reflections that are warping themselves around her. I make the point that she is looking at the one thing we cannot take a picture of. She hands me the camera and tells me I should really check out the lens...and sure enough, it is quite amazing to se the strange refractions of light and my own image rendered small with the forest reflected behind me and - BOOM! The flash goes off! My girlfriend has taken a picture as I looked into the lens. The flash spots blend in with the forest visuals and I'm visually overwhelmed. When it develops, the picture is astonishing. In it, I look like a serene wizard, a blurry magic wand (the cigarette) in my hand and the sunlight framing my head.

We are far enough off the path that we canot be seen and so when a mountain biker passes us, he seems like a future knight on a metallic steed. His chain must have slipped at some point, because he loudly proclaims, 'That's not supposed to happen!' We're pretty sure he can't see us, but he seems odd, and we're glad when he leaves.

My girlfriend then realizes that it's going to be getting dark in the next hour or so, and we should probably start to head back to our car. We bid adieu to our friends and set off.

3:30 - 5:00 ; On our entire journey back, my girlfriend seems to be constantly calling out 'Here's another friend!' and finding mushrooms. It soon becomes so many, and they are all so well hidden that it appears to be miraculous to me. Let me make this clear - she is not LOOKING for mushrooms as we walk along; we would be happily engaged in a discussion of the Fall or the forest and she would suddenly point off to her side and exclaim that she had found another friend. This happened 15 times or so, almost always with a different species of mushroom, and many of them so hidden we had to remove leaves to fully see them. They were all absolutely beautiful.

We pass the crew-cut boys again, and they all explain that they didn't make it to the waterfall. No shit. One of the boys is trying his damndest to pull a small tree down. My girlfriend asks him what he's doing and he sheepishly stops. We ain't no tree-huggers, but damn, that's just rude.

At one point we stop by the place where we ate the mushrooms, and I look into the sky. My girlfriend claims she has never seen the classic psychedelic geometric energy patterns when tripping, so as I begin to see them take over the sky like a matrice of neon reality, I say to her 'Are you telling me you're not seeing anything in the sky?' She looks up and says 'No, I....ohhhhh, that's beautiful.'

We spend an eternity looking at the blue sky with cirrus clouds floating and transforming whispily by. My girlfriend says (and still claims) it is THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING SHE HAS EVER SEEN. We decide not to take a picture of it.

Finally we arrive at the bottom point of the hill, and after taking a break to notice how it's going to be dark in about 15 minutes, we head up the final part of the trail. At this point a bit of paranoia kicks in and I begin to think that we're on the wrong trail, that it's gonna get so dark we won't be able to get back, that the forest will be creeping with wild animals, that we don't belong in this forest and it's going to teach us a lesson. But I don't voice any of these fears, and keep telling myself that everything's gonna be fine.

And sure enough, it is. We hoof it up the trail and make it to the car just as the sun is disappearing behind the mountains. Sweaty and panting, we get in, sit down and grab a random cassette and just slap it in the player. Hank Williams starts up, 'You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are grey...' When the song ends we eject the tape.

5:00 - 7:00 ; We make it back to the Lodge exactly(!) in time for the dinner, which is served punctually at 6:30pm. While in the forest we had given up on making it, but somehow time seemed to flow with us, and we made it with 10 minutes to spare. After an astounding home-cooked meal by the innkeeper (who took on all the attributes of a twinkly-eyed tavern-keeper of old, and regaled us with tales of the history of the lodge) we spent the coming down off our trip in the hot-tub, smoking cigarettes, talking and looking at the stars.

CONCLUSION ; Without a doubt, the most spiritual and magical trip I have ever taken. Along with the beautiful visuals and enhanced perception, certain things happened which cannot be seen as anything other than magical. The discovery of all the friends, the elven girls, and the map voice -- all speak of a world that co-exists with our own but which we rarely visit.

FUTURE ; I would not hesitate to trip strongly in a forest again, and especially in the peak of Fall. This was our first experience with this level dose, and I am looking forward to testing higher amounts when mind-set and setting present themselves again.

Exp Year: 2002ExpID: 18507
Gender: Male 
Age at time of experience: Not Given 
Published: Oct 30, 2002Views: 19,941
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Mushrooms (39) : Nature / Outdoors (23), Glowing Experiences (4), Small Group (2-9) (17)

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